MarketWatch Interview: Ciaran Dunne

With the Ocala Breeders’ Sales June 2-year-olds in training sale in full swing, Ciaran Dunne of Wavertree Stables finds himself in a unique position as a consignor of two colts from the last crop of Scat Daddy. While the progeny of the late stallion, who sired Triple Crown winner Justify, have shown themselves to be a commodity both at home and abroad, Justify’s accomplishment adds another layer to the desire to possess a Scat Daddy as the final offspring are offered through the ring. BloodHorse MarketWatch spoke with Dunne about the market at OBS June, how this sale differs from those earlier in the year, and his expectations for the Scat Daddys on offer June 13-15. 

MarketWatch: What sets the OBS June 2-year-olds in training sale apart from those earlier in the year?

Ciaran Dunne: Nobody sets out to takes horses to the June sale. We all just end up here, be it for horses who may have had setbacks through the winter that you needed to give time to, horses that went to a previous sale that you didn’t get sold, or there is always a scattering of people who were going to race and then got cold feet. So I don’t think that we have a strategy as such that says, “We are going to take X amount to the June sale this year.” But, actually, it has been a successful sale for us through the years because some of those later-developing horses who come here and show up, we’ve always found that there are plenty of buyers here for them. Like anything, it’s next to impossible to hide a good horse. So there is usually a good market here.

MW: As the last 2-year-old sale of the year, do you find that consignors are more competitive to get their product sold?

CD: I don’t think there is more pressure. There is probably less pressure, because it’s almost like the October sale at Fasig-Tipton. If horses show up here, it’s usually because people want to sell them and because they don’t want to race. From a consignor’s perspective, you aren’t dealing with large reserves, and we came here to sell, so we’re going to put them in a number to make sure that we can get that done.

It can be a little easier to get them ready because they are more mature, and so they kind of take care of themselves. And I think that any time that you can go a quarter (mile), horses show themselves a little better because they’ve had more time to get into a rhythm and they level out. Earlier in the year, it’s harder—at least I find it to be harder—to have them go a quarter, because they have to be fit enough to do it.

MW: With the catalog almost 22% larger this year, how do you make what you’re offering stand out?

CD: I think that, given what we do, it’s a performance-based sale, so it’s very easy. They all get an equal shot to go work and show what they’re made of and what they can do. That’s what sets them apart. The positive to it is that, yes, there are a lot of horses in here, but probably there are less good horses. So if you have a horse that shows itself well and performs well, it’s easy for them to stand out. We have a couple horses here that were in the (Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale). They were nice horses in Miami, they just weren’t as good as the horses that were around them. Whereas here, they stand out a bit more because of the company they keep.

MW: What is your opinion on the market during the June sale? More or less polarized?

CD: It’s funny. I think that the stronger April gets, the more those middle- to lower-end buyers get pushed into June, so it actually strengthens the June market. I think April is more polarized. We’ve seen this week, the traffic through here, we were looking for certain faces in April but were like, “Well, we don’t see any of those guys here.” They’re here this week.

I think April has gotten so strong they’ve decided that they can’t compete, so they stay away. I think that’s been a big help on the lower to the middle end of things, and regarding the top end, the good ones … everybody finds them.

MW: You are consigning two of four Scat Daddy colts on offer at this sale. Have you re-evaluated their potential value based on Justify ‘s Triple Crown win?

CD: You would hope that it would add a little to their value. I’m not sure it really does. Everybody knew about Scat Daddy before this weekend. I think that my horse (Hip 742) is a really nice horse, and he’s not been to another sale. I think he’s shown himself well, and he’s gone over well, so we have pretty good expectations for him coming in here. I think that being by the same sire as a Triple Crown winner sure won’t hurt. Having a Triple Crown winner in general should give the whole business a bit of a boost.

MW: Do you find buyers trend toward sire power? Or is it strictly about performance?

CD: I think that, first of all, it’s about performance. If you can combine performance and add sire power like a Scat Daddy to that, then that makes a huge difference. It’s a whole lot easier to sell a Scat Daddy that breezes well than another horse by another stallion that breezes well. If they don’t breeze any good, then it doesn’t matter who they are by.